The Power of Habit
My new favorite book, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg is an eye opener. It backs up the theories upon which I have practiced nutrition for many years. Even y book Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck. Health decisions are all about habits. The golden rule for me, and I repeat it often “decide to make a healthy choice and then don’t re-decide”.
In this book, Duhigg goes through everything from overcoming alcoholism to the success of football teams and businesses. Through any of the decisions pulls one theme: there is a trigger, an action and a result. In order to make a change you have to change the pathway to change the result. Recognizing a trigger and permanently altering it can change the action and the end result.
He goes through some of the same material as my other favorite book Willpower by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney. Specifically, that willpower doesn’t really work as a tool as it can be exhausted. What you want to do is build a system around supporting a choice, eating the same healthy breakfast every day for instance or placing your sneakers next to the bed so that you are more inclined to create that habit. Doing so saves willpower for other, more stressful and less healthy choices later in the day.
Building one habit upon another ensures a simpler strata of choices and a smoother way to get to a goal. Whether that goal is to lose weight, quit smoking, dump a boyfriend or build an empire, the process is the same. Decide. Set up a system to support the new decision with a new set of cues for the negative trigger. And make change.